Thursday, June 5, 2014

What to do when your aids are out!

Some of you may have seen my Facebook post a couple weeks ago that 3 out of my 4 aids were all absent on the same day (if not, you should follow my Facebook page #shamelessplug).  

I went into the day ready to be calm and relaxed by having this photo available in my phone to look at over and over again.  However, realistically, aids are going to be out…and teachers are going to be out too (check this post on how I prepare for a teacher sub!).  So, how do we prepare for the days our aids are out?  I have some general tips to share with you.

1) SCHEDULES. I provide my subs with a schedule when they walk in.  I keep these stored right by my door (check out this post for more must-have items to store by your door) so they are easily accessible.  

2) STRUCTURED ACTIVITIES. Usually a sub will be at one station for the entire morning and then have a couple of activities they run in the afternoon.  All of my aid-run stations are already set-up in a structured and routine way.  I have posted visuals at the stations, binders that have sections of work labeled with days of the week, etc.  This not only makes it easy for anyone coming into the classroom to run the station, but it also allows my kiddos to learn the routines.  Usually I tell the substitutes, “just follow the kids’ lead…they know what to do.”  

3. BACKUP ACTIVITIES.  However, sometimes you don’t get substitutes for your aids.  In these situations, I may do something like allow the kids to do work on iPads at that station, or do independent work such as puzzles or functional work tasks.

I also keep a couple larger group activities in my pocket to whip out on these days.  Sometimes we play with shaving cream, play bingo as a group (my favorite is sound bingo…check out this post), or play Pictionary (some of my students insist on calling it “dictionary”) or wheel of fortune (check out this post).

Another thing I can easily adapt to any season is a “tearing paper craft.”  This is where I have students shred up paper into small little pieces and then glue them into some sort of seasonal shape (flowers, shamrocks, candy canes, hearts, ice cream cones, rain drops, and on and on!).  The kids really like this craft, it is easy set-up, works on fine-motor skills, and it takes up some much needed time on a day where you are lacking staff.

Do you have any suggestions or tips for what you do on days like these?


  1. I feel your pain...!!

    I work with teenagers with autism and severe challenging behaviour and as a result I have 6 students who between them are meant to have 8 (yes EIGHT) staff - but before that sounds too good, bear in mind that these 8 are from a selection of 150 depending on shift rotation as we are a residential school, meaning someone could work in my classroom on the 1st of the month, and not be back in again until the following month.. so it is like having substitute "aides" every single day!

    I was wondering - could you do a post on how your station is structure and what is in the file (the one organised by day of the week) about this bit: "I have posted visuals at the stations, binders that have sections of work labeled with days of the week, etc."

    Thank you for your posts as ever - your blog is one of 2 which have kept me afloat during my first year teaching in an Autism classroom!! :)

  2. I work in a classroom with 8 students (ages 4-8) and 2 paraprofessionals. I have one student who requires 1:1 teaching and assistance all times of the day, so when one of us is out it is usually a difficult day, but we do survive! We rarely get a substitute, but we really do know how to make it work.

    I stock all of my centers with a stack of mastered tasks. Any time an IA is out I usually pull those out and offer my students extra incentive for working appropriately. I have also had days where I will bring out HWOT cards and play dough for students to make letters.

    You Aut-a Know